Florida bus driver has history of bias say students
The Florida office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-FL) today revealed that the driver who recently prevented Muslim children from boarding a school bus in Jacksonville had allegedly engaged in similar discriminatory behavior several times in the past. The Islamic civil rights group made that claim after completing a preliminary investigation into the incidents.
CAIR-FL has also been notified that the office of the Florida Attorney General is initiating an investigation into these complaints.
On Friday, October 31, CAIR-FL called for an investigation of two incidents in which some 20 Muslim middle school students were either removed from or kept from boarding school buses in Jacksonville, Fla.
Some of those involved in the incidents now tell CAIR-FL that the driver kept Muslim students from boarding the bus on several previous occasions. On each of those occasions, after reluctantly picking up the Muslim students, the driver allegedly turned the bus around mid-route and brought the children back to the school before ordering them off the bus.
Only after intervention from school staff were the children allowed to remain on the bus and be driven home. The Muslim students also allege that the bus driver frequently directed profanity at them.
"It is unconscionable that those in positions of authority took no action to prevent this harassment and intimidation," said Altaf Ali, executive director of CAIR-FL. "The behavior of this bus driver should be repudiated in the strongest possible terms, followed by disciplinary actions."
The students also vehemently denied the bus company's claim that they were being "riotous" on the bus. In fact, two of the 20 students on the bus had reportedly raised their hands and asked the driver why she did not pick up siblings who were left behind at the school.
CAIR-FL is demanding that the Duval County School District investigate this new information thoroughly and hold the bus company accountable for the improper acts of its drivers. The group is also calling on relevant local, state and federal agencies to join the investigation of the complaints.
To date, the Duval County School board and the bus company have not offered an explanation as to why another bus driver refused to pick the same group of Muslim students from their bus stop on Friday, October 31.
CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has 25 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada.
FL Muslim students kicked off bus 5 miles from home
The Florida office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-FL) is calling for an investigation of two incidents in which some 20 Muslim middle school students were either removed from or kept from boarding school buses in Jacksonville, Fla.
On Wednesday, a driver taking the Muslim children home from school claimed they were “talking loudly” and ordered them, but not other non-Muslim students, to get off the bus. Some of the children, who are recent immigrants from the Middle East and Central Asia, were forced off the bus at school while others were allegedly removed five miles from their regular stop. Those children had to walk home. "Our legs were hurting…When we came home we were crying," said one of the students.
SEE: MIDDLE EASTERN CHILDREN ALLEGEDLY KICKED OFF BUS
This morning, another driver allegedly refused to let these same children board the bus going to school. Other non-Muslim children who were waiting for the bus at the same stop were reportedly allowed to board.
CAIR-FL is demanding that the Duval County School District and the bus company initiate a full investigation of these incidents. The group said both drivers should be immediately suspended pending the results of the investigation.
“The school district needs to send a clear message that anti-Muslim bigotry will not be tolerated,” said Jacksonville resident and CAIR-FL chairman Parvez Ahmed.
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has 25 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada.
Poll: U.S. Muslims increase political activity since 9/11
According to results of a poll released today by a national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group, roughly half of American Muslims surveyed say they have increased their social (58 percent), political (45 percent), interfaith (52 percent) and public relations activities (59 percent) since the 9/11 terror attacks. (A number of open-ended questions on the poll are yet to be tabulated.)
Almost three-fourths (70 percent) of Muslim respondents said they feel free to practice their faith without restrictions and almost all (86 percent) said they had experienced an act of kindness from people of other faiths. Those figures are balanced by the high number of respondents (88 percent) who said they knew of at least one person who suffered anti-Muslim bias or discrimination in the past year. Fifty-six percent said they themselves had experienced discrimination.
The poll of 644 individuals, conducted by the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in August, indicates that almost half of American Muslims (49 percent) say they are now more public about their Muslim identity and have increased donations to local or national Islamic organizations (42 percent). (Surveys were faxed and e-mailed to Muslim individuals and organizations nationwide.)
The survey also looked at American Muslim views on political issues and on the current list of presidential candidates. When asked which Democratic Party candidate they would vote for, respondents favored Howard Dean (26 percent), Dennis Kucinich (11 percent), John Kerry (7 percent), and Carol Moseley Braun (6 percent). Only 2 percent said they would vote for President Bush. The president also fared poorly on domestic and international issues of importance to Muslims. Only one-in-ten respondents supported the president’s Iraq policy.
When asked to name the political party that best represents the interests of the American Muslim community, more respondents named the Democratic Party (27 percent) and Green party (25 percent) than the Republican Party (3 percent). A large number (44 percent) said none of the parties represented their interests. When asked to name the media outlet worthy of praise for coverage of Islam and Muslims, PBS topped the list. Fox News was viewed by respondents as the media outlet exhibiting the most biased coverage.
On domestic issues, Muslims said they support affirmative action in higher education (68 percent) and interfaith dialogue (89 percent), favor lowering taxes (55 percent) as a way to boost the economy, and are split on the issue of school vouchers (46 percent in favor, 32 percent opposed).
Other poll results:
Muslims to hold 9/11 vigil at U.S. Capitol
WHAT: On WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Washington-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group, will host an interfaith memorial event at the Capitol Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C., to mark the second anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks and to challenge those who seek to divide America along religious or ethnic lines.
WHEN: Wednesday, September 10, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
WHERE: Capitol Reflecting Pool (Westside), Washington, D.C.
"Now more than ever, we must come together as one nation to challenge the voices of division in our society," said CAIR Board Chairman Omar Ahmad. "The threat of terrorism, and our response to it, continues to test our ability to live together in a spirit of interfaith harmony and inclusion. This is a test we must pass if America is to maintain the values of religious tolerance we all hold dear."
CAIR is American's largest Islamic civil liberties group. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has 16 regional offices nationwide and in Canada.